So your company is facing a convergence of two distinct, but interrelated, critical business ventures: You’re re-platforming or redesigning your website, and expanding your online presence to serve global customers.
That’s a difficult needle to thread. It’s challenging to find a solution that can successfully handle the technical complexities you’ll face, while still serving your brand internationally. Common technical issues include:
- Finding the right CMS
- Translating error messages and dynamic content
- Translating third-party modules
Read on to learn more about these issues, and the best practices to overcome them.
Finding the Right CMS
If you’re redesigning or re-platforming your website, it’s critical to ensure the CMS you choose can be scalable and successful in multiple markets:
Step 1: Find a translation solution that works with the CMS you’re using or evaluating. Some solutions work only with specific CMSs. Others are more flexible and work with every CMS.
Step 2: Create a content staging environment within your CMS. Staging environments enable you to prep, design, review and approve content before it’s pushed to your live production site.
Staging environments are essential when you’re serving multiple markets. Your linguists and in-country teams can translate and vet content well before it goes live. If you work with an external translation agency, it can use the staging environment in the same way.
Staging environments are a life-saver for nearly all translation agencies. Why? They use convoluted, pokey processes or outdated technologies to localize online content, which creates significant delays in deploying translations to your global sites. They often can’t keep up with the speed of your business and—without a helpful staging environment—play perpetual “catch up” with your flagship primary-market site.
These delays are bad. Timely promotions expire well before they’re ever translated. “Mixed language” content appears on-site—some in the local language, some in your primary-market language—which breaks the immersive customer experience. This makes customers feel like second-class citizens, and sends them packing.
Translating Error Messages & Dynamic Content
Most contemporary websites feature some interactivity, even if it doesn’t seem obvious to end users. This isn’t just cutting-edge applications powered by AngularJS. Interactivity can be as simple as:
- You sign up for an online customer account
- You enter too few digits in the “phone number” field
- The website alerts you with an error message
Instead, they shift that task on to their customers. That means you. It’s an absurd amount of work, and it’s going to be a hard sell. Your IT team has better things to do—and they’ll tell you so.
Translating Third-Party Modules
The modules you use for special on-site functionality and UX must also be localized for global customers. In many respects, this is even more challenging than what we’ve discussed so far, because these modules hail from third-party providers, and are stored and loaded from servers beyond your control.
This functionality could include:
- A ticket or reservation booking engine
- Interactive product search functionality (to find SKUs and detailed product info)
- E-commerce or checkout experience
These are all critical to your website, and to the customer experience. Since traditional agencies’ inadequate technologies can’t translate this stuff, the burden—again—typically falls on you to solve the problem.
You’ll want to be thinking about translation when you license or purchase modules. Ask their developers:
- Can these services provide a local instance of their service for other languages, for other markets? (Most can’t.)
- If they can, can they provide localizations in a voice that’s consistent with your brand? (The answer is probably no way.)
You can mitigate this shortcoming by purchasing white-label modules that allow you to operate different instances, and localize content into any languages you wish. But this dramatically increases cost and effort, since you’ll oversee a complex and error-prone translation workflow. There’ll be technical customizations and integration, too.
The work never ends.
However, there’s a technology-driven solution that can eliminate all these issues. The fully turn-key proxy-based approach to website translation gets along just fine with all the CMSs, easily localizes dynamically-loaded content, and deftly handles third-party modules. The best part: It requires no ongoing effort from you or your team.
Remember, content that needs translation isn’t just the “easy to find” text on the page. When examining both your CMS and translation vendor during a re-platform, it’s important to ask about how this dynamic content can be translated. Your ability to serve a seamless in-language UX/UI to your international users depends on it.
photo credit: dnd_project/ShutterstockLast updated on December 18, 2017